Becoming a successful entrepreneur has quickly become the new American dream. It seems like every day, it’s hard not to hear about a new startup gone from zero to rich in the blink of an eye. And we all want in.
No one claims that there isn’t a ton of hard work to be done in developing your own ideas from scratch and turning them into a successful business, but the focus in the media always seems to be on the successful outcomes. There are the Mark Zuckerbergs turning an idea into reality to become hyper-rich, or really, in the forefront of our daily lives there are these Instagram pages with tens of thousands of likes and comments, and all we see is their success, not what came before, or what may even still be occurring behind the scenes.
And what is occurring behind the scenes for many entrepreneurs? Anxiety. Burnout. Depression.
The causes of these entrepreneurial woes are not hard to figure out if you really consider what entrepreneurship is like. Stress, anxiety, and burnout can enter from the long hours and uncertainty new businesses face, and from the fear of failure. Failure can mean psychological blows that lead a person down a dark spiral, and physical blows at the thought of ending up in financial ruin.
The depression of entrepreneurs can also stem from a tendency to accidentally neglect one’s health: not eating right, not sleeping enough, not exercising, not tending to your mental fluctuations. These parts of daily life are important in keeping the mind right, so when they are neglected, depression can easily sneak in like poison. Luckily, the natural ways to keep things like situational depression and anxiety in check are always available to be put into use, even more now thanks to the legalization of cannabis in many US states.
Studies have confirmed that mental illness, particularly depression, is significantly more likely to occur among entrepreneurs than the rest of the general population. Yet, up until relatively recently, depression in relation to entrepreneurship was not really talked about. The deaths of famous entrepreneurs like Anthony Bourdain can make it hard to ignore some of the darker risks of entrepreneurial life, like depression and suicide. Whether that depression comes from anxiety, from fear, from fears realized, or even from the weight of pressure for already successful entrepreneurs, it is a serious topic that needs to be talked about more openly.
Awareness of the risk of mental illness as an entrepreneur is a key step in avoiding those pitfalls. Depression is not only an uncomfortable and often hopeless state to be in, it can lead to the demise of the business you worked so hard to build before it has even had a chance to get off the ground. Better to be prepared for the mental struggle than to ignore it. Entrepreneurs that know what they are up against will no doubt have a higher likelihood of success.
There are actionable ways to fight depression as an entrepreneur.
Do your homework by thoroughly evaluating your risks. Determine what you can do to make the rollercoaster that is entrepreneurial life a bit less fluctuating in terms of your finances.
Be prepared to ask your loved ones for help and emotional support when you need it.
Take action in keeping yourself physically and mentally healthy, not only during the building stages of your business, but always. The anxiety that comes with being an entrepreneur will never truly be over as long as the business is still going. However, there are real things you can do to maintain your health.
Regular exercise, make time for it, realize that you will be more productive if you are healthy, so it will be time well spent. Exercise affects both your mental and physical health.
Eat healthy. Don’t rely on microwavable food too much, even if it is convenient. Keep whole foods as the main part of your diet and your body, your brain, and your business will thank you.
Allow yourself time to relax. Overworking yourself will cause you to be less productive in the long run.
If you do notice yourself feeling symptoms of depression, find ways to manage it in a healthy way. For instance, study after study has shown that CBD, a part of the cannabis plant, may be a natural, safe, and effective way to fight and relieve depression and anxiety. CBD interacts with your brain’s neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which regulate your mood. Taking CBD oil to combat mental health issues that can often accompany entrepreneurial life could prove to be invaluable in the success of your business.
The ups and downs of entrepreneurship are unavoidable. How you react to the struggle will ultimately determine how healthy you (and your business) will end up as you find yourself amidst life as an entrepreneur.